In­done­sian Wooden Ra­dio Suc­ceeds with Good De­sign

Southern Innovator - - CONTENTS -

One In­done­sian in­dus­trial de­signer has pi­o­neered an in­no­va­tive busi­ness that has re­ju­ve­nated the econ­omy of a farm­ing vil­lage and im­proved the sus­tain­abil­ity of lo­cal forests – and he’s do­ing it all with wood.

In­done­sian de­signer Sing­gih Susilo Kartono de­vel­oped the ra­dio de­sign con­cepts while at the Fac­ulty of Fine Art and De­sign in Ban­dung, Java, In­done­sia, in the 1990s.

A range of wooden ra­dios hold pride of place for the Magno brand, which has carved out a niche as a maker of high-qual­ity, crafted prod­ucts that marry tra­di­tional skills with mod­ern de­sign. Magno is cre­at­ing jobs and skills while also cre­at­ing a unique, ex­portable prod­uct that com­mands a good price.

He takes an or­ganic ap­proach to de­sign­ing, en­joy­ing the jour­ney and not nec­es­sar­ily be­ing sure where he is go­ing.

“I never start my de­sign ac­cord­ing to the mar­ket re­search or de­mand. I de­sign by ab­sorb­ing events, global or lo­cal events and even mun­dane daily life things that hap­pen around me. Con­se­quently, I start to think what will be good and bet­ter for these peo­ple,” he ex­plains in his brochure.

The work­shop in which the ra­dios are made is a hand­some wood­en­roofed build­ing and crafts­peo­ple sit at long wooden ta­bles to as­sem­ble the mod­els.

Each ra­dio is made from a sin­gle piece of wood and takes a craftsper­son 16 hours to con­struct, draw­ing on tra­di­tional wood­work­ing skills. The ra­dios are made from In­dian rosewood, which is of­ten used to man­u­fac­ture many mu­si­cal in­stru­ments be­cause of its ex­cel­lent sound res­o­nance.

The ra­dios are made in stages, with more than 20 steps in­volved in as­sem­bling each one. The in­di­vid­ual parts are pre­ci­sion cut by ma­chines be­fore be­ing as­sem­bled us­ing a tongue-and-groove con­struc­tion tech­nique.

Some ra­dio mod­els have a chunky, retro ap­pear­ance and mix dark and light wood to give an eye-pleas­ing con­trast. Oth­ers are more mod­ern de­signs with a sleek pro­file. There is a large ver­sion, a “Mini”, a sleek mod­ern “Cube” ver­sion and a rec­tan­gu­lar ver­sion. There is also a round clock and a wooden desk­top of­fice set with var­i­ous essen­tials such as a wooden sta­pler.

The ra­dios sell for be­tween 99 eu­ros (US$124) and 220 eu­ros (US$276), and are shipped to Europe via Sin­ga­pore to Ham­burg in Ger­many. “To me, wood is some­what a per­fect ma­te­rial, es­pe­cially if I com­pare it to syn­thetic ones,” Kartono said. “In wood, we could find strength and weak­ness, ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages or rough­ness and also soft­ness. Wood is hard and solid but yet it is 100 per cent eco-friendly as it is degrad­able and leaves no waste ma­te­ri­als on the earth.”

Great care is taken in se­lect­ing the wood and en­sur­ing that it is from lo­cal, sus­tain­able plan­ta­tion sources. Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, Magno used 80 trees in 2010 for its ra­dios but in turn planted 8,000 trees around the vil­lage. This re­gen­er­a­tion has be­come part of the process of cre­at­ing the ra­dios.

Magno has won nu­mer­ous awards, in­clud­ing the Brit De­sign Award (United King­dom), De­sign Plus Award (Ger­many), Good De­sign Award/g-mark (Ja­pan) and the In­done­sia Good De­sign Se­lec­tion Awards.

“The wood I use for the man­u­fac­tur­ing process may need as long as 50 years to reach ma­tu­rity,” Kartono­said.“i want peo­ple not only to think about ex­otic or pre­cious woods but like­wise about the fact that good things re­quire time. All ob­jects that sur­round us should be thought-pro­vok­ing. Crafts­man­ship orig­i­nally was the art of deal­ing with raw ma­te­ri­als in a sen­si­ble and eco­nom­i­cal way.”

Kartono was inspired by one of his teach­ers at univer­sity, an ad­vo­cate of the “new craft”

ap­proach, which ap­plies mod­ern man­age­ment tech­niques to tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship. The idea is sim­ple but very ef­fec­tive. It be­gins with mak­ing sure that ev­ery step of the man­u­fac­tur­ing process is stan­dard­ized to en­sure con­sis­tent qual­ity and ma­te­ri­als. A new prod­uct or de­sign is first bro­ken down into steps and a prod­uct man­ual is put to­gether. Only then is the man­u­fac­tur­ing process car­ried out.

While the “new craft” method sounds sim­ple and ob­vi­ous, many craft mak­ers do not take this ap­proach. By fol­low­ing this method­ol­ogy, it is pos­si­ble to quickly train new craft work­ers and start up man­u­fac­tur­ing in a new vil­lage or com­mu­nity. Craft is in­creas­ingly be­ing seen as a good way to re-em­ploy peo­ple who for­merly worked in farm­ing. The “new craft” ap­proach can cre­ate high-qual­ity prod­ucts that would sell well in the ex­port mar­ket. A com­mon prob­lem with crafts is ei­ther poor qual­ity con­trol or in­con­sis­tent man­u­fac­tur­ing meth­ods. This can feed stereo­types of craft prod­ucts and make them look sec­ond-rate in com­par­i­son to ma­chine-man­u­fac­tured prod­ucts in the mar­ket­place.

“De­sign for us is more than just cre­at­ing a well-de­signed prod­uct that is pro­duced and con­sumed in colos­sal amounts,” Kartono said. “De­sign must be a way to solve and min­i­mize prob­lems.” – (June 2012)

Magno wooden ra­dio with chunky, retro but­tons.

Magno Ra­dio user man­ual.

• wooden-ra­ • magno-de­

Magno wooden prod­uct range, in­clud­ing clock.

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